What I learned today: 7/3/2013

[Author’s note: In an effort to reboot my blog and get writing again, I have started a daily content piece titled ‘What I learned today’. They say we learn something new every day, right? Well this is where I will discuss the things I’ve learned in my new life and career experiences. Enjoy.]

When I was 20 years old, my good friend Jason Dark and I took our hand in coaching Little League baseball at North Saginaw Township Little League.

We both played our entire youth at NSTLL and wanted to eventually get into coaching. To jumpstart our coaching career we thought there was no better way than to give back to the place we spent most of our childhood summers.

It is a very fun experience teaching young kids the fundamentals of the sport I love. Seeing them progress throughout the season and from year-to-year is very rewarding.

The greatest thing I got out of coaching was all of the kids and their parents who thanked us for coaching them. The people who really cared about learning what we had to teach them about the game of baseball were the ones who appreciated us the most, and that’s what made me feel good about being a coach.

But one thing Jason and I stressed the most when we were coaching — outside of the fundamentals, of course — was that playing baseball at that age isn’t about winning or losing, but more about learning the game and having fun.

As the years progressed and we moved up the coaching ladder to higher, more competitive leagues, it seemed as if winning was the only thing that mattered, not only to the kids but to the parents that coached them.

For lack of better words, these parents were living vicariously through their children. So much so that fundamentals were thrown out the door for the sake of winning. They lost sight of what is most important about playing a sport at a young age; fun.

For example, one particular coach who was in the opposing dugout would teach his kids when they take a walk to sprint down to first. And, if the defense was not paying attention he’d tell his players to try and take second.

At what point are these kids going to have the opportunity to steal second after a walk as they get to senior-league, high school or even baseball at higher levels?

How many times have you ever seen a professional or collegiate player take second after a walk?

Hardly ever.

So it baffled my mind when the coach I spoke of previously taught this “skill” to his kids. I thought this ploy was just part of his particular coaching style.

Until now.

Over the past two days I have noticed the coaches here in Indiana do the exact same thing in teaching the kids they coach.

But my question is why? At their young age, coaches should be more focused on fundamentals than winning. Because winning isn’t everything when you’re a kid; it’s about having fun.

Now, when I played Little League baseball all I was worried about was playing well and having fun. I have been all over the spectrum of losing teams to winning teams. I have trophies and memories to prove it. I’ve been a part of it all.

Even to this day, when I play softball I am more concerned with having fun and playing well than I am with a win or a lose. Just like when I was a kid.

After all, to quote the Little League Pledge, “win or lose I will always do my best.”

It just so appears that coaches do not live by the same mantra.

What I learned today:
Little League coaches put more emphasis on winning than they do coaching the fundamentals of sport.

Check back tomorrow for my next installment of What I Learned Today.

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